A new Taliban decree requires Afghan women to cover themselves from head to toe, and deputizes men to force women to follow the rule.
Despite much anticipation, the Taliban regime announced today that girls’ schools from grades 7-12 will remain closed. Devastated teachers and students did not know about the announcement until they arrived at their schools had to return home.
In speaking with the BBC, one in Kabul student said, “I feel really hopeless for my future. I don’t see a bright future for myself. All we want is to go to school.”
In late February, the Taliban launched a house-to-house search operation called “search and clear,” supposedly to address rising crime in Kabul. The house searches have terrorized Afghans, reminding them of the harrowing experiences of the past house searches by former governments.
Regardless of whether President Biden inherited the mess in Afghanistan or perpetuated it himself is secondary to what choices the United States will make to fix the situation we are in now. It is past time for the U.S. to live up to the commitments it has made to Afghan women and girls—the U.S. has the power to ensure that Afghan women are equal partners in retaining their rights and lifting their own country from crisis. The U.S. must include Afghan women leaders in decisions about peace, security and humanitarian aid. And the U.S. must not take Afghan assets out of the pockets of private citizens who desperately need those funds to survive and restore their lives.
As Mary Akrami, an Afghan women’s rights activist noted, “We Afghan women will not allow anyone [to] play with Afghanistan anymore. … Enough is enough for us.”
In Afghanistan, most secondary schools remain closed to girls, and women high school teachers who have not been paid for the last seven months have resorted to begging in the streets to feed their families.
The events in Afghanistan since August prove yet again that in times of crisis, the rights of women are demoted, devalued and expendable. They also show the propensity with which the U.N. and its member states sometimes accept as a fait accompli the cultural norms that place girls and women at risk of the worst physical harm; are denied access to their most basic human rights; and support their unquestioned subordination.
As 2022 begins, there are reasons to salute recent advancements women have made globally in the arts. But women are still underrepresented and underacknowledged in music and the arts.
Elizabeth Mirzaei’s recent short film Three Songs for Benazir, has been shortlisted for an Oscar and was recently acquired by Netflix for distribution. The story about Shaista and his wife Benazir, who live in a camp for displaced persons in Kabul, presents Afghanistan in a light not commonly depicted—one that reveals stark realities through the more quiet moments of one couple.
Taliban forces pepper sprayed a group of women’s rights protesters in Kabul—one of many violent acts waged against Afghans since the collapse of the government in August 2021.
Amid a well-documented deluge of online abuse, new data shows that physical violence targeting women in politics is also increasing in most regions of the world, creating additional—and at times deadly—obstacles to women’s participation in political processes.
This week: Nebraskans face one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the nation; New York City’s first women-majority city council takes office; Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers sentenced to life in prison; D.C. Council approved free menstrual products in all schools; the gender gap in higher education widens; and more.